Changing our children’s choices to tackle air pollution

  24 September 2015
Teaching children about the contribution travel choices make to air pollution is the best way to change attitudes and behaviours for the future.

That’s the message behind a new online air quality teaching package, which is being made freely available to all schools in Scotland and was launched today (24 September 2015) to teaching professionals at the Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow.

Produced by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and North Lanarkshire Council, in consultation with Education Scotland, contains a series of geography and science activities and practical experiments for primary and secondary schools, designed to encourage pupils to think about air quality and how it affects them and their families. Schools can also borrow an air quality sensor to record raw air quality data from around their school.

Colin Gillespie, Principle Scientist at SEPA, said:

“SEPA and our partner, North Lanarkshire Council, wanted to try and change people’s travel behaviour, and at the same time improve both the environment and the health of local communities’ said.

“The teaching package that we’ve developed delivers practical messages on air quality and allows the children to collect air quality data that is relevant to them and their school. If we show the children the difference in air quality at certain points during the day, then we can start the process of changing behaviours for the future.”

Councillor Helen McKenna, Convener of the Environmental Services Committee at North Lanarkshire Council, said:

“This innovative education resource is based on a package developed by North Lanarkshire Council and, since it was rolled out to our primary schools, it’s been very popular with pupils and teachers.

“It brings the topic to life through hands-on experiments and activities, teaching pupils about the impact air quality have on their lives and communities, and how their actions can affect the air they breathe.”

The educational package has been split in to three sections:

  1. For primary schools, it’s all about making science fun: looking at how children get to school, learning about their environment and how it fits within the world climate.

  2. There are two secondary school sections:
  • geography lessons on how air pollution is created;
  • the science of air pollution - the chemistry and environmental and human impacts.

Each section offers a range of teaching material that is backed up by both practical activities and experiments. If schools borrow the air sensor, they can collect raw air quality data, which is downloaded onto Scotland’s Environment Web. The data is presented in an appropriate format, using simple graphics, on SEPA’s Spotfire data tool. Each finishes with how we can change to improve the air quality around us.


Notes to editors

  • Funding of the project was provided by the Scottish Government and Scotland’s Environment Web.
  • SEPA manages the Scotland’s Environment Web project on behalf of a partnership of key environmental organisations in Scotland. The project has received funding support from the European Commission LIFE+ funding programme to support the development of a website and the delivery of a range of multi-agency collaborative initiatives that will provide a trusted gateway to data and information about the environment, and involve Scotland’s Citizens in discussion, monitoring and action to protect and improve the environment.

More information on Scotland’s Environment Web partners –

European Commission LIFE+ funding programme

The LIFE programme is the European Union’s funding instrument for the environment, which contributes to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental policy and legislation.

For further information about the Scotland’s Environment Web LIFE funded project –